GOP Lawmakers Vote to Enact Sweeping Bill Banning Healthcare and Sports Participation for Ohio’s Transgender Youth
COLUMBUS, OH — Today, Ohio’s anti-equality majority in the state House overrode Governor DeWine’s veto of House Bill 68, thereby sending it back to the Senate, where a vote is expected later this month. The discriminatory bill prohibits transgender youth from accessing best practice, medically necessary health care in defiance of the expert advice of every major medical association. The law also bans those young people from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. In the wake of the December veto, former President Donald Trump attacked Governor DeWine, urging the state legislature to convene quickly and vote to override him. They acquiesced, returning early to pass HB 68 into law.
By passing this discriminatory, anti-transgender, anti-health care bill, legislators have put the safety and well-being of Ohioans at risk, likely forcing some families to consider leaving the state out of necessity for their health and safety. In a 2023 survey from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 42.9% of LGBTQ+ adults in Ohio said they would move or try to move to a different state if the state were to pass or enact a ban on gender affirming care.
Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson released the following statement about the veto override:
“MAGA extremists in the legislature have caved to Trump’s bullying and decided that politicians, not parents, should decide what health care Ohio’s youth have access to. The override is a clear attempt to earn the approval of Trump and rile up their base instead of doing what is best for Ohio families. But the battle isn’t over. We will continue to fight to see this horrible law overturned.”
Before 2020, no state had ever introduced legislation to ban health care for transgender Americans, which has been safely prescribed for decades and has the support of every major medical association and leading health authority. Now, Ohio has become the 22nd state to install a draconian and discriminatory ban in the last four years. The move puts the gerrymandered Ohio legislature at odds with most Ohioans and people nationwide. Americans would prefer that politicians either protect transgender people or not focus on transgender issues at all. Only 17% of Americans, and only 29% of Republicans, say politicians should focus on restricting gender-affirming care.
The Ohio Department of Health is set to take up Governor Mike DeWine’s proposed regulations restricting care for transgender adults, as well. The proposed rules would unnecessarily and discriminatorily impact the ability of transgender people to access medically necessary healthcare. The temporary regulations authorized by the Governor late last week prevent any minor from being able to access surgical care. Additional proposed regulations, which are going through the normal regulatory process, would add draconian new hurdles for any transgender person – of any age – who attempt to access health care related to their transition in the state. The regulations would also propose onerous reporting requirements about transition-related care that put patients at risk of having their private medical histories be identifiable. The public comment period for these proposed rules has begun and the Department of Health is set to consider them in the coming weeks.
The Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with organizations and advocates in Ohio, will continue to activate our tens of thousands of members and volunteers across the state to oppose extremist policies, fight for full equality in the Buckeye State, and work to ensure all Ohioans have access to the health care they need.
THE FACTS: Gender-Affirming Care
Every credible medical organization – representing over 1.3 million doctors in the United States – calls for age-appropriate gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary people. “Transition-related” or “gender-affirming” care looks different for every transgender and non-binary person. Parents, their kids, and doctors make decisions together, and no medical interventions with permanent consequences happen until a transgender person is old enough to give truly informed consent.
This is why majorities of Americans oppose criminalizing or banning gender affirming care. Two recent national surveys report that majorities of Americans oppose “criminalizing” or “banning” gender transition-related medical care for minors: 54% oppose (NPR/Marist on 3/20-23, 2023); 53% oppose (Grinnell College National Survey on 3/14-19, 2023). Democrats and Independents drive opposition to such legislation, suggesting that support for such bans carries risk in a general election context.
Gender transition is a personal process that can include changing clothes, names, and hairstyles to fit a person’s gender identity. Some people take medication, and some do not; some adults have surgeries, and others do not. How someone transitions is their choice, to be made with their family and their doctor. Therapists, parents and health care providers work together to determine which changes to make at a given time that are in the best interest of the child. In most young children, this care can be entirely social. This means:
None of this care is irreversible.
Being transgender is not new. Some say it can feel like being transgender is very new – but that’s because the media has been covering it more in recent months and years. But transgender people have always existed and will continue to exist regardless of the bills we pass. And very few transgender people change their mind.
ALL gender-affirming care is age-appropriate, medically necessary, supported by all major medical organizations, made in consultation with medical and mental health professionals AND parents. And in many cases, this care is lifesaving: A recent study from the Trevor Project provides data supporting this — transgender youth with access to gender-affirming hormone therapy have lower rates of depression and are at a lower risk for suicide.
For more information, please visit hrc.org/transgender as well as these resources:
THE FACTS: Anti-Transgender Sports Bans
A majority of Americans oppose discriminatory bills seeking to ban transgender and non-binary youth from participation in sports. A PBS/NPR/Marist poll states that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose the anti-transgender sports ban legislation proliferating across 30 states. And a poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group revealed that, with respect to transgender youth participation in sports, the public’s strong inclination is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sports are important in young people’s lives. Young transgender people should be allowed opportunities to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”
Advocates for women and girls in sports support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports. This includes the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — including prominent female athletes like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources devoted to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them. And nearly 550 college athletes have stood up to anti-transgender legislation by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups oppose sports bans. Groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender children in particular.
In 2022, lawmakers introduced 80 bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. By the end of the 2022 legislative session, a record 17 bills attacking transgender and non-binary children passed into law. 19 states exclude transgender athletes in school sports.
For more information, please access the following resources on HRC’s website:
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